A Paula Deen Thanksgiving

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The Birth of a Cook

"I bet I'm the only one here who remembers the first Thanksgiving dinner Paula cooked!" says Peggy. "It was November 1970. She was in her kitchen and I was in mine. Every few minutes she'd call me wantin' to know how to start her Butterball turkey. I'd be trying to do my own dinner and teach her how to do hers at the same time. Finally, her Uncle George called out, 'Peggy, for God's sakes, tell Paula to get offa that damn phone or I'll never have my turkey dinner.'

"I'm not surprised by the fame that's happened to Paula," continues Peggy. "The way I saw her improvise I knew she'd make it. Once, when she'd just opened her first restaurant, The Lady, in 1991, she had a customer waiting for a sandwich. She was missing so much in that place -- didn't even have a spatula to apply the mayonnaise. Well, Paula, she just washed her hands real good, reached down two fingers into that gallon jug o' mayonnaise, brought them up and slathered the stuff on the bread. I knew then that no lack of a spatula or anything else could stop my Paula."

"Success got me way too late in life to change me," says Paula. "Some things in life -- fame, money -- they are gone just like that. But the love of family -- that never fades away. I'm very aware that one mistake and it could all be over. But I also think that mistakes can turn into blessings, which turn us into the people we are. In the end, if I wake up on the right side of the dirt, there's always time to make it better."

Continued on page 4:  Home Is Where the Stove Is


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